The Lakers’ latest draft practice features another potential second-round prospect in Khalifa Diop. The big man played for Gran Canaria in Spain last year and is seen as a potential second-round draft and reserve candidate, depending on the team selecting him.
Here’s a look at the full roster of Lakers practice on Monday:
Javante McCoy – Boston University
Keve Aluma – Virginia Tech
Khalifa Diop – Gran Canaria
Jeenathan Williams – Buffalo
Malik Osborne – Florida State
Danko Brankovic – Cibona
The Lakers still don’t have a second-round pick as we enter draft week, but general manager Rob Pelinka has also publicly stated the team’s desire to trade for one to get in on the action. Thursday.
Diop is certainly an interesting and different prospect than the team has been targeting so far when it comes to potential second rounders. The 20-year-old Diop played 32 games for Gran Canaria last season in the league and in the EuroCup, a second-tier competition after the EuroLeague. In EuroCup, Diop won the Rising Star Trophy, which rewards the best player under 22 in the competition last season.
Statistically, his numbers are not mind-blowing. He averaged just 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 16 minutes per season. But a deeper dive into his game reveals a few aspects that make him an intriguing NBA prospect. Peach hoops — our Atlanta Hawks SB Nation sister site – did a fantastic breakdown of Diop’s game with lots of videos, showing his strengths and weaknesses at both ends, a must read for anyone interested in him as a prospect.
In short, Diop is a big man full of energy who excels as a screen maker and roll man with plenty of athleticism that allows him to finish around the edge. But his youth has its downsides, usually in the form of excessive defensive zeal and a lack of finely tuned footwork at both ends of the pitch.
Even so, DraftExpress ranks Diop 32nd among its best available rankings and has a pretty comprehensive breakdown of his game. Here’s a rundown of that as well:
What NBA teams think of Diop will likely largely depend on what they think of the level at which he plays. For some, a 20-year-old starting and finishing games at the ACB and EuroCup levels and making his presence felt at both ends of the court will be hugely remarkable, while others will point to his unremarkable numbers (6 points, 3.6 rebounds in 15 minutes per game) and prefer to target college big men instead.
Diop has a high floor as an NBA backup, but many teams just prefer to have highly skilled players on the floor in every position and won’t be interested in a player in that mold, which could relegate him to the second round. . .
While it’s unclear how Darvin Ham will use the big men in his new system, it would be easy enough to imagine Diop filling a long-term role akin to JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard alongside Anthony Davis.
But by most accounts, that would take several years, as Diop could even potentially be a draft and hideout option for some teams, depending on the state of their franchise and roster. For the Lakers, it might make sense to bring him to South Bay to develop internally, given their track record of producing talent.
Whatever the team’s plans, Diop is a different type of player than they’ve looked at in the draft so far and one that presents intriguing possibilities should they select him.
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